Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Big Sciota

So I was raised on Irish music.  Mostly.  Some Klezmer, maybe.  But mostly Irish and other Celtic traditions like Scottish and Cape Breton.  The only bluegrass I heard was the opening and closing seconds of 5-string banjo on NPR's Car Talk.  But living out West, when I told people I played fiddle, they automatically assumed "bluegrass," so I got requests all the time for bluegrass show-tunes.  "Oh, you play fiddle?  Can you play The Devil Went Down to Georgia/Orange Blossom Special/Cripple Creek/etc.?"  And I would say, "Uh sure..." And thusly I began faking bluegrass.

The bowing is so bass-ackwards from Irish it really throws me off, but I dearly love playing in a good bluegrass jam.  So here at NTAD I'll be learning some standard bluegrass tunes so I can participate in those more.

Irish sessions and bluegrass jams are opposite experiences in some ways.  In an Irish session, it's all about the tune.  99% of the players (or even 100%) play the melody of whatever tune the whole time.  For a long time.  And it's great, if not totally pleasant for the uninitiated to listen to.  In a bluegrass jam, you play the tune once or twice through, with people feeling free to back up or add harmony, and then you take turns doing variations or solos.  It's much more about thinking on your feet and playing off the people around you.  Both are fun.

Anyway, here's the video for the bluegrass standard jam tune I learned today. Big Sciota, named for a river, I think.

No comments:

Post a Comment